Paramount Theatre/Civic Video – South Hurstville, NSW

In the second such instance, Civic Video has taken up residence in a former cinema. This time, the Paramount Theatre of South Hurstville continues to provide movies to the public through the video chain. Let’s take a closer look.

With a booty like this, of course it was once a cinema.

The Paramount was built in 1934, joining a sister cinema at Mortdale (since demolished) and only four other picture theatres in the Kogarah/Hurstville region: the Odeon at Carlton, the Oatley Radio, the Hurstville Savoy and the Kogarah Victory being the others. It’s a pretty damn big building, with a seating capacity of 1,100 when it was built. In 1950, that old vaudeville villain Hoyts (boo, hiss) bought the theatre and renamed it the Hoyts. Sounds much better too, doesn’t it? Hoyts closed the theatre in 1959 (I’m growing more and more convinced there was some kind of Hoyts conspiracy to buy up the suburban cinemas in order to get people to head into the city). Hoyts made sure that a covenant in the sales contract ensured the building could never again be used as a cinema.

The Paramount/Civic in its less space-generous, more art deco days. Gotta be the late 80s/early 90s. Image courtesy Kogarah Council.

Since 1959 it’s been used as a recreation centre, a supermarket and a giant Civic. In the last ten years as video shops have declined, Civic has cut down on its floorspace, sharing with a Subway, a newsagent, a Curves gym and some kind of computer shop out the back. Cramming more into less space isn’t just a residential thing anymore.

CRUSTY UPDATE: Here’s a look at the Paramount in its heyday courtesy of reader Carmen. Thanks!

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17 responses

  1. g2-8a2e522ec9f2f85d8f8567ea7cf04110 | Reply

    I used to go in this place as a kid when it was a Flemings supermarket. It was a pretty basic supermarket back then. They used to have the old NCR cash registers at the front. Inside I remember looking into the staff only storeroom which had no lowered false ceiling and you could still see the original ornate theatre ceiling. Probably still there!

  2. If you would like\photographs of the Paramount and Oatley Radio as theatres let me know and I can send them to you.

    1. hello, do you remember if there was a cinema or forest road Hurstville called the civic theartre,it was on a corner with a milk bar opposite it, you could go there at interval.. we would go to that theartre on the mid 50s and watch the serials,cartoons , etc… great… barry…

      1. Hi Barry Yes, I have wonderful memories of the Civic Theatre at Hurstville, we even went there with our school to see nature movies. Do you also remember the Hoyts theatre at Hustville, it was really grand and even had an organist who would play the organ before the movie commenced and then both the organ with the guy playing would slowly go down into the floor and out of sight as the movie started….great days, I remember them so clearly. Laraine

      2. Thanks for your reply Laraine, we used to think the Savoy was for posh people, but when we eventually went over there , it was great, normal kids, just like us… and the organ player was magic.. 1956 was the last time I visited the civic theartre and saw a young elvis Presley in love me tender…. not long after that I ran away and joined the navy…and here it is many many years down the track….thanks again… barry Minogue……

      3. Laraine Harrell

        Hi Barry…it was good to hear from you….interesting to chat with someone who shared the same experiences all those years ago. I agree the Savoy was quite ‘posh’ wasn’t it, especially with the white organ which used to disappear down under the platform as the movie commenced….those really were the good old days weren’t they…precious memories. I remember seeing a movie there with Pat Boon, I think it was Summer Holiday…not sure and don’t know why I remembered that particular movie as I saw many there over the years. Do you remember Waltons store over the road from the Civic? I used to go there with my Mum, she loved that store.
        Do you still live in the area? Have a great day…Laraine 🙂

      4. Carmen, Hurstville South Public School is having its cententary soon and we,re looking at the area as it was… would love a copy of the Paramount!

  3. just a little side note (as you mentioned that you’ll be getting to eventually) that the Kogarah Mecca building is currently being demolished to make way for a residential and retail building. I’ll try post when it’s fully demolished (builders are currently knocking surrounding buildings, inc Mecca, in different phases)

    1. Thanks for this Jimi k. Sad to hear.

  4. at the back where the car park is ,the second store to the left at ground level is a very good computer store run by some chinesse guys apparently they got good prices..went there once..

  5. My father, David James Kennedy built and owned THE PARAMOUNT theatre at South Hurstville six years before I was born in 1938. He also built the family home at the rear of the theatre when he remarried after his first wife died. He had four children, two boys and two girls, myself being the youngest.
    He also owned THE CHELSEA theatre at Earlwood and another two theatres at Mortdale and Camden.
    Hoyts bought the Paramount a short time after my father suffered a stroke and they sold it to Flemings.
    My father was a handsome man with pure white, thick wavy hair and blue eyes who wore a tuxedo to greet guests on the door as they entered the theatre. He would greet them all in his charismatic way, knowing most patrons by name.
    My mother who was thirty or so years younger than my father sat in the ticket box each movie time selling tickets in the glassed box.
    The milk bar across the road was owned by two sisters, one a spinster, Miss. Drinkwater.
    The shop next door was a general grocery which my father purchased for his only daughter from his first marriage Ellen, known as Nellie, and her husband Eddie Mc.Mahon.
    I recall travelling with my father to put out the posters of coming movie attractions with a large pot of glue and brush on boards during the war when petrol coupons were issued.
    The local Catholic convent would be given the theatre free of charge once a year by my father for their speech day and the Nuns would arrive shortly thereafter at our front door with boxed exquisitively hand embroidered doileys for my mother.
    I could regale you with many stories about the Paramount, some sad, some bad and some humorous but space doesn’t permit.

  6. Olwyn, you must have some fascinating stories about your father. Ellen Subway at Mortdale must be named after your aunt. I wonder if you would have any photographs of the Paramount Theatre at Mortdale?

    1. Dear Carmen,
      I’m fascinated to know how you knew to contact me.
      I am nearly 79 years of age and lived behind the theatre in our brick family cottage in Allen Street, (which my father built) until I was twelve.
      I do have a small booklet somewhere here, showing many of the areas picture theatres, with photographs, including the Paramount at South Hurstville.
      How I came to acquire that about 15 years ago is another story in itself.
      I could write a book on the Paramount and its sister theatres my father owned at Mortdale, The Chelsea at Earlwood and another at Camden.
      There is a kaleidoscope of events, emotions, family breakdown and sadness connected to the Paramount.
      Briefly, my mother worked in the ticket box in the evenings and my fathers other family from his first marriage (to Ellen) were involved as well. My half sister Ellen (known as Nell) and my fathers mother was also Ellen, so there is no doubt the Ellen connection. Not an Aunt as you suggest.

      I would be interested to meet with you if you like, to talk about an important part of Hurstville and the St. George areas history, particularly during the war years.
      I live on the Central Coast.

      Regards,
      Olwyn Kennedy Fountain.

      1. Dear Olwyn,

        My name is Else and my grandfather was Reginald John Kennedy, married to Helen Kennedy. His father was David Kennedy and his mother was Gertrude Ellen Knight. He was involved in theatres in Sydney around this time, and it sounds as though he may be your brother or half brother (?).

        I would be interested to meet you if you would be open to that possibility.

        Kind regards,
        Else Kennedy

      2. Dear Else,
        It seems we are related.
        My Father, David James Kennedy married my mother Margaret (Maggie) in the early 1930’s after the death of his first wife Gertrude, where they had lived at (from memory) 28 Hamilton Ave, Earlwood.
        There were three adult children Reginald, Stanley and Ellen, known as Nell or Nellie.
        As you state Reg was married to Helen who lived at Strathfield, Stan to Mavis who lived at Hurstville and Nell, married to Eddie Mc Mahon and they lived at Connells Point.
        They are my half brothers and sister. All now deceased.
        My mother and father had 4 children in quick succession David (now deceased) John, Margaret and myself.
        Another boy Peter was born when I was about 6 and he only lived for a day or so. He’s buried at Woronora cemetery.
        We lived at no1 Allen St, South Hurstville behind the Paramount Theatre until I was 12 and then moved to 29 Greenbank St, Hurstville.

        There is so much history about the family that should be told and I would be happy to talk with you at some time.

        I’m living on the Central Coast @ Erina.
        Regards Olwyn Kennedy Fountain. D(SCM)P
        (Olly)

  7. Drove past today, and it looks like Civic, Subway, and others have shut up shop.

    1. Hi Scott.the last movie i saw at the old civic theatre at hurstville on the corner of park and forest road was Elvis in love me tender 1956 ..I was sixteen….my elder brother used to go to the hotel just nearby.the white horse hotel maybe…merry Christmas to all…barry..perth western Australia..

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